This summer my local Kids in Service group started a project with our older kids (10 and up) called Granting Wishes. We like to think of it as a Make a Wish program for seniors.
This project was inspired by Ruby, a 5th grade girl in Arkansas, who visited area nursing homes daily while her mother worked as a nurse. Ruby tried to keep busy and eventually started talking with the residents. Through her conversations she would ask the residents about their wishes. She was surprised to learn that many of their wishes were simple (new shoes, an electric razor, Vienna sausages) and this led to a service project where she helped to make their wishes come true. Ruby is an INCREDIBLE Kid and such an inspiration.
This past spring we contacted the local nursing home that our KIS group has been working with for the past 4 years. We asked if we could partner with them for a similar project and the Activities director, who had heard about Ruby’s story, was excited to provide a similar experience for her residents. Many of the residents at the local Assisted Living/Nursing home are nuns and many do not have family near by. It was my hope that this summer’s Granting Wishes Project would foster some connections between the kids and residents that would lead to an Adopt a Grandparent program in the fall.
Twenty children signed up for this project and the group has visited three times now and each time has been magical. The kids break into small groups and have a list of residents they are to visit. Each week I stress that their main goal is not to gather the wishes (that is the secondary goal) but to make a connection with the senior and get to know them. It has been so much fun to watch the interactions between the seniors and the students. The kids have asked about what life was like when they were children, their interests, about their families and their wishes and dreams.
“They were just like us!” one girl said during our reflection time. “I am so surprised at how easy they are to talk with.” another boy said. “I was so nervous when I came but I feel so good after the visits.”
Many of the wishes that the kids collected are very simple to grant (Oreo cookies, crossword puzzle books, DVDs) and others are harder to grant (their spouse back, a time-machine and World Peace). We have tried to find at least one wish for each resident that we can grant and now the kids are working to make them come true.
This week we will meet to grant the wishes and I can’t wait! We have already granted two wishes and the recipients were overjoyed. One was a golfer, who golfs all over her small room. We brought her bright golf balls (so that she can easily spot them) and a putting machine so that the ball will return to her once she reaches the hole. “This is all for me?” she said, and she embraced the girls in a group hug. “Please come back and see me again!” she said to the girls. It was a beautiful moment and this project has been one of the highlights of my summer!